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LVIII Forever

At last, the Super Bowl made it to Paradise. 

There, a glittering being appeared, ethereal, ever-loving. She could sing like an Angel because she was one. But she didn’t, not at this halftime.

Like the three DraftKings of Biblical Time, she came from the Orient (a monster concert in Japan), though she had arrived, miraculously, from the West.

She flew not on her own invisible, immaterial wings, but those of aerospace-grade aluminum on her Dassault Falcon 7X private jet parked nearby at Harry Reid (that revered Profit of Government Pork) International Airport just across Dean Martin Drive which runs parallel to Frank Sinatra Drive before conjoining with Sammy Davis Jr Drive— the saints’ routes followed by earthbound pilgrims on their way to the Holy Site on the Super Bowl Sabbath. 

Joyful and triumphant, images of the Angel were flashed across the altarpiece jumbotron and beamed to home icon screens and millions—or was it a billions?—of wrists and palms and foreheads, like full-spectrum, synchronized stigmata. When the bearded gridiron Warriors of God who fought in Her name touched down to earth, she leapt from her throne up towards heaven, shivering in ecstasy. The Angel was all light inside the darkened temple, brilliant and bleak in the desert sun, just across the Red Sea of fans and the waters not of Babylon but of Mandalay Bay and the Great Pyramid rising above the Strip (Las Vegas not Gaza). 

Allegiant Stadium claims a patch of desert in unincorporated Paradise, contiguous to Las Vegas, the City of Sin. Paradise must be unincorporated, incorporeal. 

The stadium’s address is 3333 Al Davis Way, named in honor of the founding owner of the Raiders football team. Davis had long wanted to move his franchise to Vegas but, like Moses, did not make it with his people to the Promised Land. Godless rationalists likely see the address as a colossally coy nod to the arrival of an NFL team in the very gambling Gomorrah so long spurned by the league, since to embrace Vegas would be to soil the game’s putative sporting purity.  

The address sent numerologists and mystic punters scurrying to their tomes and tally-boards. provides hermeneutic insight: “The biblical meaning of 333 is a sign from God to tell you that the Angels are with you and they are guiding you, protecting you, and providing for your every need.” calculates that 3333 years have elapsed since the Ten Commandments were revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Google Maps confirms that Allegiant Stadium is equidistant from Mount Sinai Apostolic Temple (Templo Apostólica Monte Sinai) located in a strip mall ten miles to the east of the stadium. Low-slung Mount Sinai Baptist Mission stands on a scrubby lot ten miles to the north. The verdant campus of Temple Sinai sprawls thirteen miles to the northwest. That makes a total of 33 miles! 

Allegiant Stadium looms black in the bleached landscape. Its construction cost $1.9 billion. Pious taxpayers put $750 million of their won money in the public collection plate.  The stadium’s tinted retractable windows are said to be the largest of their kind in the world.  A giant fireless flame burns inside the Football Basilica to Davis’s memory, like a sanctuary lamp that never flickers, not even when a rogue gust of desert wind rips through the portal when opened.

When closed, these vast lenses look like wraparound sunglasses that could have been worn by the dark-spectacle-loving Raider owner or by the Rat Pack boys glaring into the desert sun through a haze not of martinis and cigarette smoke, but the low-calorie fizz of Bud Light and the CO2 fumes of stretch-limo Hummers sweetened by the intoxicating kerosene of the nearly one thousand private jets that, like the Angel’s, had skied in for Sunday’s rituals.

From her sacred citadel, the Angel observed the football rites, but also the satanic liturgy that framed them. She knew better than anyone that Lucifer takes many forms.

Andra Day and a chorus started off the Order of Service by slinging the rousing strains of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” into the sump of sentimentality. “Let our rejoicing rise / High as the list’ning skies,” she breathily intoned, repurposing the bracing hymn as a doleful sedative. A key change, crescendo kick and tempo uptick were all meant to heed the lessons of “the dark past.” With these predictable calibrations the anthem tried to spur itself “till victory is won.” But the tepid racket achieved only a dour shuffle above which Day oozed and occasionally arabesqued, apparently trying her best to blow some life into the limp balloon.  

After this bland starter came a course of white-bread bunkum: American the Beautiful delivered by a guitar-wielding Beelzebub wreathed in satanic tattoos. This ghoul soothingly snarled out the harmless melody through monstrous metallic teeth. Before he broke into a song that threatened to break him, the credentials qualifying him to perform this paean to Manifest Destiny and its 49ers and other killers of “Chiefs” were announced over the PA:  “Nine-times Diamond-certified global superstar, Post Malone!”  A paradoxical truth was hidden in the rhetorical puffery. Pony Express Post emitted a wailing whisper, but somewhere beneath the amber waves of reverb and fruited plain of vapid vocalize one could hear the whirr of a diamond saw vicious enough to clearcut continents and remove the tops of purple mountain majesties.

“Entertainment Icon” Reb McEntire then unfurled a crisply pressed Star-Spangled Banner.  She twanged for the Dawn’s Early Light and let rip through a big smile on her arrival at the Home of the Brave. McEntire hit her musical spots, milking all the right moments even as she marched methodically down the field of song in an efficient 90 seconds. She did not need a two-minute warning. The downhome swoops, offered up in curvaceous contrast to the Euclidian flyover of the Air Force Thunderbirds, came across not as heartfelt patriotism but as heartland professionalism, the algo-rhythmic routine of a chip-implanted chanteuse furloughed the Grand Ole Opry for a weekend of work release in Paradise.

The Chiefs and 49ers performed two quarters of their Wild West Show.

Two quarters make a half, which meant it was time for the halftime show. 

Church services have ushers. This one dutifully praised God, thanking Him for answering his prayers. But Lucifer would say that, wouldn’t he? This fiend has many melodies, many guises, many outfits. The first was lifted from Las Vegas legend Liberace’s wardrobe—a cream cape with silver lamé brocade that made the world shiver in delight and disgust. The Usher took a few artful steps and shed the garment, all the better to get down to his unique brand of show business.

With the Angel above in her box, this Mephistophelean Motown Magician got way down to earth, dancing like a demon and singing like a saint, albeit an unusual one who sang only of sex. 

He performed many musical miracles. The most amazing of these was an astounding oxymoron of motion and semantics—moonwalking on grass. It was fake grass, but what isn’t fake in Paradise, NV? Besides, moonwalking on grass, fake or real, has got to be a damn sight harder than walking on water.

Alicia Keys, boasting a Star-Spangled Banner and an America the Beautiful on her Super Bowl CV, mounted the stage in a red-sequined bodysuit and fingered a satanic red piano as a matching red sheet billowed behind her like Pentecostal tongues of flame. With the Angel listening along with the world, Keys flubbed the first note of her infernal love duet with the Usher, a human mistake suggesting that that she had not yet surrendered to damnation. The NFL promptly scrubbed out the error with auto-tune.  If only 49er kicker, Jake Moody, who missed an extra-point and a field goal, could do the same. 

Next to join the Witches’ Sabbath was H.E.R.; h.e.r. hair done up to look like devil’s ears, s.h.e. strummed and stroked and thrust h.e.r. fire-engine-red guitar, and refused be outmanned by the subsequent strutting and slamming of, Lil John, and Ludacris when they erupted on stage.  After ceding a few precious minutes to this squad of apostates, the Usher returned in mock heavenly white, soon stripping to the waist so as to make us believe that he was flesh and blood, that he could be harmed by the hellish heat and the columns of sulfur smoke. But he did not melt. He did not cough. He did not even sweat. As the all-star cast came together for a concluding Hallelujah Chorus of “Yeah, yeah!,” a mute marching band boogeyed below the stage erected in the shape of a wristwatch—one presumes an Apple Watch, since Apple was the sponsoring corporate overlord of this satanic entertainment. Time was ticking away, but the flames of song-and-dance licking at the Usher’s Air Jordans did not consume him even as he lofted the saucy discant of “Nice & Slow” and conjured a place where all “Burn.” 

After it was all over (but was really just starting), the Angel come down to earth too in hopes of exorcising all those demons. Incarnate, immaculate, she kissed a tight-end and the scent of sulfur was gone in an instant. 

In one of her heavenly hymns heard on her ongoing Eras Tour, the Angel sings, “I don’t wanna live forever.” But she was and is always already immortal. 

Dearly Beloved, raise your iPhones without bothering with that final iOS update and wave goodbye to seconds, hours, days, months, and years. Bid farewell to pagan Roman Numerals and to the Super Bowls they mark. 

The next show, neither swift nor slow, will be hers in eternity. The Heavenly Harmony has no game clock. Halftime is over forever. It is the End of all Eras except hers.

Two quarters before The Kiss, the Final Terrestrial Halftime had concluded in yet another paradox, finished not with Omega but Alpha. Having donned a Road Warrior biker-rig of black and blue, the Usher danced but did not drop.  Joined by his crew of apostates on that time-piece soon to be made irrelevant by the Angel, he chanted over and over, “I took the world to the A! I took the World to the A!”  

It could only stand for the Apocalypse.

(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at

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